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Indiana unemployment rate falls for second straight month

Workers at Hoist Liftruck's new factory in East Chicago install the forklift forks. Unemployment fell to 3.4% in July.

Indiana's unemployment rate dropped for the second straight month, falling to 3.4% in July.

Private sector employment decreased by 1,300 people as compared to June, but the jobless rate still fell because the labor force — the number of people employed or actively seeking work — dropped by an even greater 6,608 people. Indiana had 5,334 fewer employed and 1,274 fewer unemployed residents in July.

Last month, the Hoosier state saw a decrease of 1,500 leisure and hospitality jobs and 700 trade, transportation and utilities jobs. Indiana gained 1,500 jobs in the private educational and health services sector and another 300 in financial activities.

So far this year, private sector employment has risen by 27,000 in Indiana, where about 3.38 million people, or 64.6% of the state's population, participate in the workforce.

Indiana's jobless rate was lower than the national average of 3.7% in July. The state was tied with Arkansas, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina and Texas for the 22nd lowest jobless rate in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The Hoosier state had the eight highest jobless rate out of the 12 U.S. Census Bureau-designated states, trailing North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

In the Midwest, only Ohio, Illinois and Michigan had higher unemployment rates in July.

Illinois's jobless rate of 4.2% ranked 40th nationwide. Michigan's unemployment rate of 4.2% was 42nd nationally and the highest in the Midwest.

The jobless rate in Illinois dropped by 0.1 percentage point as compared to June. The state added 3,100  jobs, including 3,300 in the leisure and hospitality sector, 1,400 in educational and health services and 700 in the government sector.

So far this year, nonfarm payroll employment in Illinois has risen by 62,700 jobs, including 8,400 in professional and business services.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.